Warning issued over roof space hazards and electrical work

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Thursday, 24 March, 2022 - 12:00
Industry news
Western Australia

Western Australia’s electrical safety regulator recently issued a safety warning following a number of fatalities and close calls involving electricians working in enclosed roof spaces.

Building and Energy’s warning to residents and tradespeople follows five fatal electric shocks since 2011 in roof spaces in Perth and the South West, as well as several serious injuries from electrical hazards.

“Hazards in roof spaces may not be immediately obvious in tight spaces with poor visibility,” said WA’s director of energy safety, Saj Abdoolakhan.

“There could be exposed live electrical conductors or wiring, damaged or deteriorated cables, non-compliant past electrical work and many other dangers. For everyone’s safety, always turn off the power before anyone enters the roof space.”

Under WA’s Occupational Safety and Health Regulations, it is mandatory for the mains power to be off before any worker enters the roof space of a residential property or related buildings such as a shed or garage.

The law applies to electricians and all other trades including air-conditioning, solar and security installers, gas fitters, plumbers, insulators, carpenters and pest controllers.

“Homeowners should also switch the power off if they are entering the roof space themselves – it’s a simple step that could prevent a tragedy,” said Abdoolakhan, who provided a number of roof space safety tips:

  • After turning off the mains power, tape or label the switch – or use a lock-out kit – so it is not turned back on while you are in the roof space.
  • Let someone know where you are.
  • Use a torch and cordless power tools.
  • Do not disturb or alter any electrical wiring or junction boxes.
  • Keep thermal insulation away from light fittings.
  • If you see any damaged or bare wires, call a licensed electrical contractor immediately. Never attempt DIY electrical work.

Building and Energy is distributing free safety stickers to be placed on manholes and switchboards as a reminder to turn off the main switch at the property’s switchboard or meter box before entering the roof space.